Jenny Davision, remedial project manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, talks with a South Bend resident Wednesday evening about the agency's plans to test soil in residential yards near the LaSalle Park Superfund site for contamination. Tribune Photo/JEFF PARROTT
SOUTH BEND — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent nine staffers here Wednesday to deliver two messages at a public meeting about a former hazardous waste dump, but several residents who attended had a message of their own.
The EPA wanted to first tell the public that soil samples taken last summer from LaSalle Park, a federal Superfund site since 2013, indicated the park is safe for recreational use, such as playing soccer, baseball, basketball, picnicking, sledding, walking and jogging. State and federal officials have known since 1984 that several industrial companies, including Bendix Corp., had dumped hazardous wastes at the site from the 1930s to the mid-1950s, before it became a park.
The agency, under a mandate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also announced it soon wants to test soil in yards of homes near the park. Property owners must sign access agreements allowing the testing, which the EPA hopes to start by Oct. 5, issuing a final report by year's end.
The EPA wants to test soil in the yards of homes west of the park to Kenmore Street, east to Kaley Street and south to a line parallel with Newcombe Street.
But in a question-and-answer session following an EPA slideshow presentation, several people in the crowd of about 30 urged the agency to widen its scope. Tom Zmyslo said he worked at Honeywell, corporate successor to Bendix Corp., for more than 30 years, and he recalled an employee meeting in 2001 where workers were shown a map of groundwater contamination all around the plant.
Zmyslo said he is concerned that Honeywell could have contaminated drinking water wells that people still use in the Ardmore area, which is located just west of the city limits. Jenny Davison, EPA's remedial project manager for the LaSalle Park (also called Beck's Lake) site, responded that groundwater hasn't been studied at the LaSalle Park site because people living in the immediate area are served by the city's water system.